Westbrook, Maine police have released a photograph of a shed snake skin found along a bank of the Presumpscot River, not far from a parkland boat launch site. Residents of the town have been warned to remain at a safe distance from animals while they're spending time along the river and to alert the authorities if they spot the snake.
The enormous stretch of discarded skin is the latest twist in a tale that has social media transfixed by "Wessie," a huge snake that could be a Burmese python or a boa constrictor.
Record 16-Foot Python Bagged in Florida Removal Effort
Westbrook police first spotted in late June what they described as a 10-foot snake eating what they took to be a beaver. That sparked not only an increase in wishful, snake-sighting visitors to nearby Riverbank Park but also more than a bit of concern for the safety of small pets and children.
But, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife biologist Derek Yorks told Bangor Daily News: "It's unlikely that it poses any real danger to people." Yorks estimated that the snake is a Burmese python, which, despite its size will be tough to find, given how well it could camouflage itself. He also noted that the invasive, tropical reptile wouldn't make it through the harsh cold of a Maine winter (the Southeast Asia native species has wreaked havoc in much warmer Florida, however).
Boa Constrictors Don't Suffocate Prey, They Use Better Method
As for how such a snake would end up in Maine, it would likely have been raised at first as a pet -- in its early days it's easy to handle but quickly becomes too tough to handle. Within a few years, "it can become burdensome," Yorks said.
Until Wessie is caught either alive or dead and the mystery is finally solved, the snake's burst of fame seems likely to last a little longer. It has its own Twitter handle and local businesses are even capitalizing on the moment, giving the elusive snake its own brand of beer.
VIEW PHOTOS: World's Top Heavyweight Reptiles